Valentine’s Day: day of love or day of spending?

Valentine’s Day: day of love or day of spending?

Written by: Emily Tuohy, Design: Monika Monko 

Walking through supermarkets, fashion stores and even when browsing online, there’s no avoiding it: It’s the season of love. Cards, flowers, chocolates, lingerie, jewelry, cuddly toys, hearts, and poems – they’re everywhere! Whether you’re the cynic who frowns at these trinkets, or the person who gets butterflies just by looking at them, there’s no doubt that Valentine’s Day is a day of spending money.

There are different stories of how the holiday originated. According to some stories, it stems back to the Roman times, when marriages had been banned and St. Valentine was a priest who still arranged them in secret. After he had been imprisoned for his crimes, he sent his loved one letters signed ‘with love from your Valentine’ on the day of his execution. So when did this day of love become such a commercial one? It was already in the middle of the 18th century that the holiday started becoming popular. People sent each other flowers, love letters, and even doves. It wasn’t until the Victorian times that giving roses became popular, being the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. And we can thank entrepreneurs trying to make a quick buck for what the holiday has become today, one of them being Richard Cadbury who came up with the brilliant idea of selling the delicious Cadbury chocolates in heart-shaped boxes for Valentine’s Day.  

Besides the bucks, it remains a day of romance. 50% of all marriage proposals happen on Valentine’s Day. “In its very essence, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and a chance to show your partner how much you value them,” says author and relationship expert, Tracey Cox. But is the value equal to the amount of money spent?  Research shows that the average man feels more obligated to cash out, spending $217 on gifts meanwhile women only spend $99. And it doesn’t stop there, in total Americans will spend more than $700 million on Valentine’s gifts for their pets. In the Netherlands, these numbers drop enormously. Only 1 in 5 spend money on this particular day, and on average, people claim to spend $16 on their loved one. Slowly but surely, Valentine’s has become a love affair for retailers and brands trying to give their sales an extra boost.

So why is it that we choose this day to spoil our loved ones? Are we the victims of perfectly targeted advertising which has made it feel like our duty to spend money? How do 78% of us run out and buy a gift, meanwhile 76% of us think the holiday is absolutely ridiculous? While Valentine’s Day is still nowhere near Christmas, Black Friday or even Mother’s Day when it comes to spending, it is still a day that shouldn’t be overlooked by any brand or retailer. To all those in favor of this lovey-dovey day, make sure to show it to your loved ones, but keep it constant and just as noticeable all year round. According to psychologist Dr. Daniel Weigel, we have plenty of options for this day and they don’t have to involve lots of money or grand gestures. Think small; it’s all in the details, not in the buck.